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The View from Inside a Top Button Sample Sale Tour

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In New York, we have Gossip Girl tours and foodie tours, but what about one for our favorite past time, sample sale shopping? Top Button Tours, which launched in April, has it covered by offering weekly sample sale tours just in time for the summer shopping season. Seeing that sample sales are our game, we decided to join this week's excursion in the Garment District.

We met up with our tour guide and fellow shoppers outside of the first sale. Everyone was greeted with a bright blue gift bag containing various items and, thankfully, a bottle of water and snacks for sustenance. The group was comprised entirely of ladies (no shocker) including a birthday crew from Westport, Connecticut and a mother and daughters team from California. The itinerary for the four-hour tour was quite ambitious: PONO by Joan Goodman, Theory, Be & D, Luca Luca and Alice + Olivia. So off we went.

Top Button owner Dianna Feldman combs through her established fashion contacts and select sales, both public and private, to set up an itinerary that will best fit the shoppers. The private sales, PONO by Joan Goodman (jewelry at 20% off retail) and Be & D (handbags, shoes and accessories from 30% to 70% off current season and pre-fall), were definitely the big hits of the day. At both, the group was greeted by the designers (Joan Goodman herself at PONO and Creative Director Steve Dumain at Be & D) who stayed with the group to advise on selections and chat. The set up was a win-win for everyone, both the designers (cha-ching!) and the shoppers (jewelry and bags for all!). With the personalized service bar set very high at the PONO stop, going to Clothingline for Theory was kind of a buzzkill.

The Luca Luca public sale ended up being the last shopping stop. We were proud to see some ladies go all when-in-Rome and try on evening gowns and skirts in the use the wide open fitting area. Along the way, our tour guide determined that Alice + Olivia might not be the right style for the ladies (who were in agreement), so she thoughtfully deleted that stop, since everyone was fatigued and in need of a beverage refreshment. All tours conclude with a complimentary cocktail at a "trendy" bar, which in yesterday's case was the Hill in Murray Hill (we know, we know, Murray Thrill, but last week's drinks were at Hudson Terrace, if that helps).

We enjoyed our afternoon of VIP shopping and making new friends, but we do have one suggestion. On the way to each stop, it would be helpful to offer a quick description of the designer or label, plus a summary of the discounts awaiting the group (and general retail price points as reference wouldn't hurt). Overall, the tour is a really enterprising way to take sample sales to the next level and share the insider shopping experience with a wider audience. The Top Button Tour could especially be a great idea for a group birthday, family bonding outing, bachelorette party or even a corporate outing (if those still happen), especially if guests are coming from out of town. Obviously, we know that Racked readers can devise their own sample sale agendas in their sleep (and it wouldn't cost $75 per person or $125 for two), but you have to admit it's pretty nice to have brands like Be & D open up their doors and discounts to small groups for some private VIP shopping.
· Top Button Launches Sample Sale Tours [Racked]
· Top Button Tours [Official Site]